Mushroom sales hit an all-time high in 2010 and exceeded $1 billion, according to the recently revised U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service Annual Mushroom Crop Report, which also revealed that production of all varieties rose 9 percent from the previous year to a record 861 million pounds.
"This incredible milestone is strong evidence of the great job that American mushroom producers are doing today," said Laura Phelps, president of the American Mushroom Institute, a national voluntary trade association representing the growers, processors and marketers of cultivated mushrooms in the U.S. and industry suppliers worldwide, which is based in Washington, DC. "Their use of innovative packaging, outstanding promotional campaigns, increased expansion, value-added and processed products have all combined to push sales and increase consumption."
Ms. Phelps said that the fresh side of the industry is enjoying the growth, as the processed side has been somewhat stagnant throughout the economic downturn.
She also said that the growth is attributed to expansions by existing, mostly multi-generational mushroom growers, rather than by new startup companies.
"Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is a perfect example," said Ms. Phelps. "The company was in specialty mushrooms and it acquired additional facilities over time. It has a beautiful new facility in Warwick, Pennsylvania, and the company is growing continually."
Other notable mushroom growers, including Giorgio Fresh, To-Jo Mushroom and Basciani Mushroom Farms, all headquartered in Pennsylvania, are seeing growth and expansion every year, including in their product lines.
Pennsylvania gained its reputation as the mushroom-production capital many years ago, and while the state still represents the majority -- 65 percent -- of total U.S. production, many companies are now expanding across the country.
"Production growth rather than new construction is happening in California," said Ms. Phelps. "And there are a few production facilities in Texas, Florida, Washington State and Oregon. Monterey Mushrooms in Watsonville, California, now has facilities across the country. In all, 18 states now produce mushrooms."
In 2010 Crimini and Portabella mushroom production rose 14 percent from the previous year to 137 million pounds. Production of specialty mushrooms, such as Shiitake, Oyster, Maitake, Beech and Enoki, rose 11 percent to 16.9 million pounds, with a sales value of $50.1 million, up 27 percent from the previous year.
Certified organic mushrooms also increased, with sales reaching 17.6 million pounds.
"These numbers show the strong demand for mushrooms coming out of the recession this past year," said Ms. Phelps. "Like a lot of sectors, mushroom production dropped in 2009, but roared back in the last 12 months to put the industry over the billion-dollar mark for the first time.
"It's important to remember that these numbers reflect last year's production," Ms. Phelps continued. "Coupled with increased demand, growers have struggled over the summer with shortages of raw materials for their compost. Mushroom supplies are tight, but growers are doing everything they can to insure this growth trend continues."